got ripped off

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  #1  
Old 06-06-11, 08:15 PM
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got ripped off

Hello,

I just went to the magistrate court and filed suit against a guy who sold me a boat. Never done this before. What I'm looking for is opinions about my case and directions/suggestions for me to prepare me for the court date.

I saw an ad for a boat on craigslist. The guy said to text him in the ad, so I did. He told me he paid $2000 for it and would sell it for $1400. He stated in his texts that it ran and that it would run 54 miles per hour. He also said he wanted to take it to the river one more time before selling it, but if I was coming by to look at it, he would postpone the trip. I drove over. The motor started, but the boat didn't look like $1400 to me. We haggled and I bought the boat for $1100 and handed him the cash and made the bill of sale. I did not make it as-is, but I did not imply that there was a warranty either. I believe it was after the sale that he let slip that he hadn't ever taken the boat out before. (the text saying he wanted to take it out one last time indicated that he had been using the boat, along with the specific number of 54 miles per hour). He even said that's pretty good on water (54 mph).

So, I get the thing home. I go register the trailer since it has no tag and I want to run it across the state line to Florida and put it in the coast. I pull in the boat slip, let it out, and go fishing. It runs maybe 12-15 mph full throttle, then has worse problems and slows to a snails pace and we limp back in. I took it back home and found a linkage adjustment had slipped. I reset the linkage and thought maybe that was the problem the whole time, so off we go another day to the coast. Put it in the water with 2 extra people and took a GPS to verify speed. It went 7 mph. That was full throttle. Then the engine began to sputter and skip and stall. We had to limp back to the landing again.

I get home and send him another text saying the boat isn't as described and I need to take it back to him. He basically says tough luck and he doesn't have the money anyway. He said he told me he knew nothing about boats and I bought it as is... but I did not. He also said he told me that he was just telling me it went 54 because that's what the guy who sold it to him said it would do, but that was not the case. He did say he never had a boat before and didn't know much about them, but he claimed it went 54 mph and it doesn't. He also told me when we were discussing price that the motor had been all tuned up and adjusted and was ready to fish. My wife and Father in law are both witness to the claims, and I have the texts in my wifes' phone.

The weekend goes by and today (Monday) I go to the magistrate in his county and begin the paperwork. I texted him one last time, telling him I was at the magistrate and was about to file a claim. He said I was harassing and threatening him. I said no, I'm trying to give you a last chance to do the right thing, but nevermind... I won't be mr. niceguy. He said do whatever, so I handed the paperwork to the clerk and paid the $91 fee (OUCH!).

I got home and looked at the paperwork I got from him and found the bill of sale from earlier in the year where the guy bought this boat from a guy with a boat shop nearby. I called the guy and talked w/him. He laughed and said he NEVER told him it would do anything close to 54 mph. He also said the guy pestered him to sell it and he finally did for $1200 and he warned him that it would not go very fast... it was just a cobbled together boat to putter around the river in. I can get a signed statement from him stating this, or I may even be able to get this guy to meet me at the courthouse. He said the guy even tried to sell it back to him for $600.

Now, what can I expect from here, and what should I prepare for?

Sorry for the long post, and thanks for any input!
 
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  #2  
Old 06-07-11, 04:06 AM
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Hey, cheese, you may want to secure those text messages in a readable form, so you can present them to the magistrate. They may accept the phone itself as evidence, however. It does "run", so no lie there. It doesn't run 54 mph, which can be verified, hopefully, by the mechanic. He'll most likely have to appear in front of the magistrate, as you can't cross examine a document.
I am assuming this guy lives in Georgia, and possibly in Thomas county, since you filed there. Otherwise, you would most likely be required to file it in his home town county.
Did you keep a copy of the bill of sale, signed by the guy? Magistrate may take it at face value, and interpret "implied" warranty, based on the text messages.
Not an attorney, but hopefully you will have good luck with this.
 
  #3  
Old 06-07-11, 05:19 AM
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You don't mention the size of the boat/engine. Is it reasonable to expect the 54 mph performance given the hull/engine setup?

I hate to say it, but I think you bought the boat "as is" and you didn't do your "due diligence" to protect yourself. Buyer beware certainly applies here. I'm not sure that you could convince a judge that his 54mph statement constitutes fraud, especially since you bought without a test drive, mechanics inspection or any written warranty.
 
  #4  
Old 06-07-11, 05:28 AM
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My thoughts were similar to Wayne's. Unless the seller did something criminal, I wouldn't think you'd have any recourse
 
  #5  
Old 06-07-11, 05:40 AM
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We win a lot of cases because the defendant doesn't show up

Unfortunately, I see the possibility that might be your best chance of winning, I think Wayne makes some good points
 
  #6  
Old 06-07-11, 06:25 AM
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If you could get the guy with the boat shop to go to the hearing and testify, that would help to prove the guy you bought it from, purposely lied. That would be your other best chance.
If not, it would be considered hearsay and they won't even listen to it.
 
  #7  
Old 06-07-11, 04:47 PM
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Thanks for the input! Here are some of my thoughts pertaining to your responses. Let me know what you think.

The guy with the boat shop said he would come to the hearing if needed and state that he told the seller that the boat would not go very fast.

As for mechanics inspection, I am a mechanic by trade, although not a boat mechanic, but I checked the things you can check without having the boat in the water. You can't run a boat motor out of the water and be able to tell much of anything about it. You need to put a load on it in the water. Since we live a long way from a suitable place to put a boat in the water to do 54 miles per hour, I took the guy for his word and bought it since it ran decently with a water hose connected to it. You can't really get the engine to operating temp and put a load on it to see if it will run properly like that. What if you bought a snowmobile from someone in the summer who said it goes 30 mph when it's not so easy to test it on site, so since it runs fine on the sawhorses you buy it, only to find out when you get it in the snow 70 miles away on top of a mountain, it goes 4 mph and then you find out the seller already knew it barely moved. Would you blame yourself?

As for what motor and boat combination will produce what results... That depends on a lot of variables. The weight of the boat, the size of the prop, the rpm of the prop, the length of the motor, the angle of the motor and distribution of weight in the boat, etc... I took his word for it. Is it not illegal to mis-represent an item in order to sell it?

I didn't include a warranty in the bill of sale because I didn't expect a warranty per-se... I just expect to be paying for what was advertised. If it just broke down after I bought it, that would be understandable and I would accept that, however, it was running at full speed flawlessly for quite some time and 7 mph was the highest speed I ever saw on the GPS. I can fix whatever goes wrong with it, but it is not capable of producing the results he promised me even in perfect operating condition. He sold me a boat under the claim that it had capabilities that it did not have, and he did it knowingly. Had I known it would not do it or anywhere close, I would not have bought it. If he sold me a boat that did 35-45 mph, I would excuse it, but not 7 mph. He purposely lied in order to make the sale and I can prove it by the testimony of the one who sold it to him.

He lied about never having used it before.
He lied about it's abilities.
He lied about how much he paid for it.

I have his texts saved, and am making a typed transcript of them for the judges' convenience. I filed in the county where the seller lives.

I just have a hard time seeing how I am the one at fault here legally or otherwise.
 

Last edited by cheese; 06-07-11 at 05:08 PM.
  #8  
Old 06-07-11, 05:19 PM
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I watch Judge Judy but learned a few things. She dislikes liars, and if the judge or whomever is hearing the case is anything like her, you may have a better than 50% chance of winning, especially if the boat shop guy comes along.
 
  #9  
Old 06-07-11, 05:20 PM
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Well...cheese...no legal guy...but most Magistrate hearings aren't that strict. I totally agree with you. What you bought was misrepresented as something it wasn't. You are no boat expert...and it's obvious the guy lied to get rid of it.

I was told a set of used tires I bought years back were 2 yrs old...turned out they hadn't been made for 8 yrs prior to my purchase. And they still had the nubs from the mould on them. Didn't blame the lady...she was selling for her son.

Good luck! Don't let 'em get away with it...but don't get in trouble letting people know.
 
  #10  
Old 06-07-11, 06:53 PM
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Curiosity is killing me here. Cheese, what type of boat is this? 16' aluminum with a 15 hp Johnson or what? A boat that was claimed to go 54 and only does 7 just doesn't make sense to me. If you buy a 51 Chevy with a straight 6 and the seller tells you it will go 300 mph.....maybe not a good buy.

I bought an old 54 Lonestar, 16 footer, about 20 years ago for $500. Great boat, wide and deep and it has a compartment for my dog to nap in:




I bought a new 15hp Johnson for it and it really scoots along because it is so light. I can run circles around my brother's new 15 footer because he has the floor, seats, battery, live-well etc.

Our judicial system is a convoluted mess so I won't predict any outcome. Anything can happen there.

Good luck!
 
  #11  
Old 06-07-11, 07:59 PM
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It's a 15 foot fiberglass boat with a 35 hp johnson. Honestly, I was a little surprised to hear that it would do 54, and I kind of figured it might go 35-40, but I thought maybe he was right, with the little 3 gallon tank and one person, maybe it would do 54; Maybe the boat is light, and maybe it planes out and that motor hooks up pretty good. I don't know, I'm not a boat person. I have a john boat with a 6 horse to use in our little river (large creek maybe... sometimes impassable), that's it. I never put a boat of mine in the coast before. The motor looks big to me... my little 6 hp looks like a toy compared to it. I know a porsche can do a couple hundred or so with a 4 cylinder, but a nissan sentra with a 4 cylinder does 90. I know about the nissan sentra from experience. I have nearly no experience with boats. I know a 28 horse tractor can pull a VERY heavy set of plows deep in the dirt and cut through roots and mow down bushes and small trees effortlessly, so 35 horses might push a little ol boat pretty fast? It's not a big boat.

The boat with 4 ppl and a cooler full of ice for all the fish we had dreams of catching slowed it down to 7 mph. With 2 ppl and no GPS, I would guess we were doing somewhere near 15 mph. I don't know how heavy the boat is... it's on a trailer. The fiberglass looks to be 1/8" thick or so, so I would think the boat shouldn't be very heavy. Maybe the glass is thicker in the hull area, I imagine.
 

Last edited by cheese; 06-07-11 at 08:19 PM.
  #12  
Old 06-07-11, 08:28 PM
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Hi Cheese.

Do you like the boat?

I have been in a few courtrooms in my day, and what I think might get you a win situation in court, is to ask for half your money back. Judges like this, and shows your not gready. If the hull is sound you can just upgrade the motor. If the only issue is that it does not do 54 mph.

I have had many boats. 54 mph is fast... My fastest boat was a 18 ft sea ray with a 135 6 cyl outboard. 1 carb per cylinder. That boat topped out at 64 mph. And that was on a lake that was smooth as glass.

So what I am saying is you need alot more motor to reach that speed. There was only one guy on the lake that could take me. He had a 225 evinrude outboard. That thing did about 70 mph. These were more or less flat V hulled boats. The waves give you a heck of a beating.

Hope something helped you here. Hey if you get half the money, you paid $550 for a boat....That how I would approach it.

Good luck.

Mike NJ
 
  #13  
Old 06-07-11, 08:51 PM
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Yeah, I like the boat itself well enough. I don't need it to go 54 mph either, but 7 is not acceptable. I'd like to be able to put the boat out and get to a spot that was shown to me by a friend 6 miles from the landing in minutes time, not hours. I'd like to have enough ability that if a storm pops up and the water gets choppy, I can have enough motor to get back to the landing. The maximum allowed motor for this boat is a 70 hp. I figured (apparently I was wrong) half the maximum sounds like a reasonable amount. I can pick up a 70 hp motor (again on craigslist) for $400. I hope that doesn't mean I'll go 14 mph instead of 7. I would probably accept a settlement like you suggested.

The boat, motor, and trailer all separately might be worth near what I paid, but I was looking to buy a boat ready to use, not to have to work on and put a motor on, etc... Already paid for out of state fishing licences for a year for myself and my wife ($100), and summer is right here... I paid for a usable boat, not a project. If that's what it takes though, that would be better than nothing.

Thanks for the info. Sounds like I'd need 100 hp or more to go 54 mph. Way more than a small car requires to go that fast.
 
  #14  
Old 06-07-11, 09:04 PM
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Gunguy, when you said, "don't get in trouble letting people know."... what do you mean? Am I not supposed to talk about this?
 
  #15  
Old 06-07-11, 09:17 PM
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Find out what prop is on there. It may be wrong pitch, size.

Slip is the difference between actual and theoretical travel of the propeller blades through water.

A properly matched propeller will actually move forward about 80 to 90 percent of the theoretical pitch.

I am trying to find better data for you, but here is are the different pitches for your motor. You cant just put anything on there, and who knows what someone did.

35 HP Johnson Outboard Boat Propellers 2 & 3-Cyl. 1976 & Newer - iboats.com

Is it the 2 cyl or 3 cyl???

Whats the part # on the prop? We can tell alot from that.

What rpms where you running at 7 mph?



Mike NJ
 
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Old 06-07-11, 10:04 PM
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I don't know what the rpm was... It was wide open throttle, took the cover off and verified that the carb was indeed wide open. The rpm sounded like 3500 to 4k maybe, not quite as high as I'm used to hearing 2 strokes run, but I work on 2 stroke weedeaters and saws, so I don't know how high it should rev. My 6hp seems to rev higher. Guessing from the sound of it, my 6 hp might rev 5000 or maybe a bit more? I figured the motor was bogging because it was underpowered maybe? It was smooth, just not high rpm (until one cylinder quit firing that is). I can fix the cylinder firing problem though, if it was within my interest.

The prop... I just looked and the only numbers on the prop are 10X13. It's a 2 cylinder engine, supposed to be from the '80s.
 
  #17  
Old 06-07-11, 10:27 PM
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That engine should run 5200 to 5800 rpm. WOT should be higher.

Sounds like too much pitch and the motors lugging. Every pitch change equals about 400 rpm. If that 13 is the pitch then you probably need a 9". But look for more #'s. Usually on the hub.

From what I read the diameter is correct at 10" - 11"


How many blades????

Oh and lets see this boat.... Pics????


Probably wait until all this is over before you do anything. But you have sparked my boat interest again. I just need to keep saying to myself.." money pit, money pit...Yeah!!!"

Oh the days of the $62 dollar merc cruiser air filters are way behind me....LOL

Mike NJ
 
  #18  
Old 06-07-11, 10:58 PM
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It's a 3 blade prop. There was another prop in the boat, but it was beat to heck and the blades were ground off to points. The boat is like a hybrid between a tri-hull and a regular boat I think. I look at some tri-hulls and they really seem to have 3 where this one not quite so much. I don't have a pic of it, but here is a pic of one very similar to it but in nicer looking condition.
http://www.purplewave.com/cgi-bin/mn...gi?101020/6340

I know what you mean about money pit. I once bought a bass boat for $2500. It was a 17.5' glasstream with a 150hp suzuki. I was still young and took it to a lake down in florida, put it in, and in minutes had it locked up overheated. The temp alarm didn't go off (I didn't even know it had one). That situation was different. The seller told me it had been sitting for a long time and he didn't make any claims. I ate that one. Paid on it for a while, then let a neighbor have it for the remainder of the payments after I paid most of it off. Then my Father in law gave me a boat very much like this one with a 1968 johnson 55hp on it. I took it to florida and put it in the water and it would only go in reverse. I took the foot apart and found it had an electric shift solenoid and it was bad. A new one was more than the boat was worth, so I got rid of it. That's been years ago, and I hoped my luck with boats would be better this time. I never really had one I could drive other than my trusty old jonboat and 6hp johnson. It always runs and does a great job, even though I may not use it for several years at a time.

I almost talked myself into just buying a nicer, newer boat with a center console, skiff type... but I want to ease into this and see if it's just a phase, or something that I'll be sticking with for a long time, so I decided on an older, cheaper one instead. I'm stubborn though, and am still hoping to find success with boating.
 
  #19  
Old 06-08-11, 07:31 AM
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What I meant about the "don't get in trouble" thing was....
It's obvious he lied and cheated you. If you don't get good results in court, I'd let people know about it....just nothing slanderous or that you could get in trouble with the law about.

btw...even if you win, he can always say he spent the money and won't pay you. Then there will be even more legal stuff.
 
  #20  
Old 06-08-11, 09:21 AM
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Cheese - A 15' boat with a 35 hp will never, ever go 54 mph. At least not without a JATO bottle attached. I once owned a 15' Terry with the same design modified tri hull. It had a 70 hp Johnson hung on ther back. On a good day with a tail wind I could make 30 mph.

A case like this would hinge on you being able to prove that the seller intentionally committed a fraud. Something like misrepresenting milage on a car or selling a car with an engine older than advertised. I'm not a lawyer but I think the guy telling you it would go 54 mph may not be fraudulent. What you are calling lies, a judge might consider acceptable seller's exuberence. What is not in your favor is that YOU opted not to do what a reasonable person would have done.

If your only complaint about the sale is the outboard's performance, why not find out what's wrong with it? I don't know the age or make of your outboard but a
10X13 aluminum wheel is in the right range for your setup, however propping a boat correctly includes several variables. Much depends on material and the boat it's pushing.

On edit -
Cheese - I just read this in one of your posts.
The maximum allowed motor for this boat is a 70 hp. I figured (apparently I was wrong) half the maximum sounds like a reasonable amount.

You can tweak on that engine from now until doomsday and you may never get any acceptable performance. I have owned boats, most of them high performance (150 hp and up) outboards for a good part of my life. I would never expect anything out of such a mismatched setup. Even with a correctly matched prop and a smooth running engine operating at max rpm you'll be lucky to plane that hull. Half the maxixum is not reasonable. 90% is getting there. 110% is awesome.
 
  #21  
Old 06-08-11, 03:05 PM
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Half the maxixum is not reasonable. 90% is getting there. 110% is awesome.
I have to disagree a slight bit on that. My boat is rated for 40hp maximum, I have a 15 on there and it skips across the water just fine. Now, that is just me and the dog but it does go. It's all about weight.

I almost bought a used fiberglass tri-hull years ago but decided against it because that thing weighed a ton, at least compared to the aluminum boats I was used to. Apples to oranges?

Cheese, did you try adjusting the angle of the motor? My 15 has five different settings and that can make a big difference. Too much of an angle can push the rear end down and never get to plane.

If that doesn't work, maybe this will help. I'm not sure they even make them anymore.


 
  #22  
Old 06-08-11, 04:06 PM
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It's a "dole fin", I believe it is called. My wife's boat had one when we met. Heavy fiberglas walk through, but it would plane out in 10 seconds and scoot. Inboard/outboard v6. I agree with Baldwin, check the plane pitch, but I also agree with Wayne that the small engine you have would be better relegated to trolling. I doubt a 110 could get a trihull up to 54 mph. Just for information that is MOVING on water. No time to think, much less react. Hmmmmm. JATO, interesting....
 
  #23  
Old 06-08-11, 06:04 PM
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Wayne,

Thanks for the reply. You say I opted not to do what is reasonable. To me, reasonable is asking the owner questions and finding out what it does and how it runs and expecting the truth to be told. You don't have to be a mechanic to go buy a car, so I don't feel like I should have to be a boat expert to buy a boat. If you buy something over the phone or online, you are doing the same thing. You are making a purchase based on the advertised information. Have you bought anything used online? Were you not reasonable by not inspecting and testing the item before purchasing it?

I had several reasons for not testing it. 1: There was no place close to test it. 2: There was no tag on the trailer. 3: Not all the trailer lights worked. 4: I didn't have the right ball to hook up to the trailer and the owner had no truck to haul it with. 5: The trailer tires were dryrotted beyond safe limits. You could stick your fingernails in the cracks in the sides of the tires and the spare was beyond use at all.

I don't think I could legally or safely transport this boat to the water, and I wasn't about to put new tires, lights, etc... on someone else's trailer. After I bought it, I immediately changed the tires and rims, got it home and installed new trailer lights and registered the trailer and got a tag just so it would be legal to put it on the road.

Baldwin, I tried the motor in a few settings. It ran fastest in the lowest setting. Raising it 1 or 2 notches slowed it down.

Am I correct in thinking that whether I am buying over the phone, online, or in person, I can expect the same laws to hold fast to the transaction? If I sell someone this boat on ebay after telling them it runs 54 mph and everything works fine, I put it on a truck and ship it to them, and they find out I lied... what's the difference?
 
  #24  
Old 06-09-11, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by chandler View Post
It's a "dole fin", I believe it is called. My wife's boat had one when we met. Heavy fiberglas walk through, but it would plane out in 10 seconds and scoot. Inboard/outboard v6. I agree with Baldwin, check the plane pitch, but I also agree with Wayne that the small engine you have would be better relegated to trolling. I doubt a 110 could get a trihull up to 54 mph. Just for information that is MOVING on water. No time to think, much less react. Hmmmmm. JATO, interesting....
The device is also known as a whale tail although I think somebody sells them as a Dol fin as a take off on the word dolphin. It's primarily used to prevent porpoising, essentially by giving the motor additional lift to keep the bow from falling off plane. I suppose it might also help an underpowered boat get on plane faster.

Baldwin - I'm not sure what you mean by "skipping across the water" but I just can't see how a 15 hp motor can plane anything except a lightweight flat bottomed john boat. Even then it's not really "on plane". I once owned a 12' aluminum duck boat that got around just fine with a 9.9 on hte back. However, it wasn't in the same universe with a performance hull.
 
  #25  
Old 06-09-11, 07:22 PM
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Baldwin - I'm not sure what you mean by "skipping across the water" but I just can't see how a 15 hp motor can plane anything except a lightweight flat bottomed john boat.
I'm not sure what you mean by a john boat, but the bottom of mine is pretty flat. The back 2/3 is almost square with a nearly flat floor:




And I do consider it light. Being almost half way to 120 I can pick one side up and flip it over without pulling any main muscles.
 
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